Taiwan government takes novel approach to fighting novel coronavirus

Ministry of Science and Technology covers handles, elevator buttons with copper to prevent COVID-19 transmission

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MOST covers handles and elevator buttons with copper foil. 

MOST covers handles and elevator buttons with copper foil.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s government agencies are gearing up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) taking a cue from science.

The ministry came up with the idea of covering door handles and elevator buttons with copper foil, reported CNA. The move was inspired by a study that showed the virus may survive on copper surfaces for a shorter period compared to other materials.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 17, provides insight into the amount of time the virus can survive on various surfaces. On copper, cardboard, stainless steel, and plastic surfaces, the virus can last for 4, 24, 48, and 72 hours, respectively.

The study also found that COVID-19 remains active for three hours in aerosols. Scientists involved in the report, titled "Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1,” hail from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Princeton University, and the University of California.